Sherwood Ranchers Prepare For Flooding - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Sherwood Ranchers Prepare For Flooding

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There hasn't been much melting of snow along the Mouse River in the US so far this spring.

And river managers are keeping an eye on the river channel, waiting for ice to deteriorate so they can increase releases into the river from Lake Darling.

The dam at Lake Darling is releasing 800 cubic feet per second - and Corps of Engineers officials say they'll keep it at that level until the snow melt is underway.

Meanwhile, releases from Canadian dams continue to increase - with the flow expected to rise from the current 1470 CFS soon.

West of Sherwood, ranchers are facing the possibility of losing some of their calving land to the high water.

Jim Olson reports from the border where the Souris River exits Canada and turns into the Mouse River in the US.

Say hello to the newest calf at the Tami and Greg Hanson ranch in Renville County. The little one is joining the herd at a busy time - not only because there'll be close to 200 calves soon, but because of the river that's just over the horizon.

(Tami Hanson, Renville County Rancher) "The whole thing's making us a little nervous."

The Hansons farm the land that's just inside the US- where the Mouse River begins snaking its way through North Dakota. But because of the late spring and the increasing water releases from Canada, the river could overrun their pens.

(Tami Hanson, Renville County Rancher) "As long as possible, the cattle will stay here, yes."

While that's the hope, they're also making plans to move. They've hired a contractor to plow an area at the top of a nearby hill - where the cattle can be relocated.

(Tami Hanson, Renville County Rancher) "When he cleared that spot on the hill he cleared out this lot too...we normally calve out here."

But they also are having to move all their equipment - something made a lot more difficult by the deep snowdrifts of this winter.

(Tami Hanson, Renville County Rancher) "What should have taken a few hours to move out has taken a few days just because of the snow."

They'd also have to move hay and much more up the hill. But one thing they don't have to worry about this year is their house. That's it at the top of that hill. It used to be here - right next to the river gage that was telling them of high water more frequently in recent years. They moved it after the 2011 flood.

(Tami Hanson, Renville County Rancher) "We weren't sure if we should or not but this sealed the deal - we did the right thing."

The current release forecast from Canada says the river should rise to about 16" - about two feet below where the cattle would have to be moved. But the unyielding ice on the river is pushing the levels higher than normal, meaning the next rise might flood their driveway.

(Tami Hanson, Renville County Rancher) "We're not panicking, we're just trying to be ready. And hopefully this year we can have everything moved out and just watch the water go by and not try to fight it."

Whether or not that's possible will depend on how smoothly and how quickly all this ice finally leaves the river bed to allow the water to move through more easily. At the US/Canadian border, Jim Olson, KX News.

The increasing flow from Canada, coupled with the steady 800 CFS output from Lake Darling means there'll soon be quite a bit more water coming in to Lake Darling than going out, so the level of the lake is likely to start rising.

Lake Darling is currently almost one foot below the level required by the 1989 international agreement on river management.

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